Maberly Phillips.

A history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c online

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Online LibraryMaberly PhillipsA history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c → online text (page 10 of 57)
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drawer — it is the largest key of the bunch — and when you have opened the Shop Desk with it you must

desire George to get the Bill Plate wanted which he will find in the bool hole over which there is a

paper pasted with Notes upon it Luke does not know the Plate and it is on that acct. that you

must get George to seek it out from amongst the other plates of the same kind which are in the same

place along with it T. Bewick.

Mr. Robinson remarks : —

" About this time (1806) Bewick was much occupied in devising means to prevent forgery of bank notes.
After considerable time had been consumed, and a very lengthy correspondence with bank officials, he
found, like many other ingenious men, that his suggestions had only served to build up the fortunes of
others. Sir Wm. Congreve, who was in a position to cull and select from the designs contributed by
various talented artists, and appropriate ideas thus made known to him, somewhat disguised by modi-
fications of his own, reaped in the end all the honour and advantage."


In May, 1802, the partnership that had existed between Messrs. Mills,
Hopper, & Chipchase (The Wear Bank, Durham), was dissolved, and as Messrs.
Wetherell, Mowbray, & Co. (originally of Darlington), who now had a branch in
Durham, undertook to cash all notes of the dissolved firm, we presume that they
succeeded to their general business. In the following month the Commercial
Bank, Stokesley (Messrs. Simpson, Sanderson, Taylorson, Grainger, & Co.),
became bankrupt. It was only established six years before.

On the 30th of June, 1803, the financial world of Newcastle was startled by
the issue of a small hand-bill, proclaiming the suspension of Surtees, Burdon, & Co.
Of course such an announcement produced a panic in the town and district. The
notes of the other finns came upon them in great numbers. As no banker
attempted to keep bullion sufficient to meet a sudden run, and however well he
stood with his London agent, some days must elapse before a supply of the
precious metal could arrive, the towns-people again had to take the matter in
hand. A declaration was issued : — " We whose names are hereunto written do
hereby engage to take the notes of the several banks of Sir M. W. Ridley & Co.,
Sir W. Loraine, Baker, & Co., Messrs. R. J. Lambton & Co., and Messrs. Batson
& Co., in all payments whatsover."

I have been fortunate in discovering the identical list that was signed at this
time. It is in the possession of Mr. Wm. Boyd of Benton. As it contains many
interesting signatures, I give a reduced facsimile of two sheets on the following page.

Sunderland came to the rescue of the Wear Bank (Messrs. Goodchild, Jackson,
Heurtley, & Co.). On July 23rd a meeting was held, when "in order to appease
the general alarm," the notes of the bank in question were guaranteed by those
assembled. To assist in allaying the panic some well-meaning inhabitant of North
Shields issued the following notice in the form of a hand-bill : —

To THE Public.

At this particular Crisis when every Man is bound to stand forth in defence of the violated Rights
of his KING and COUNTRY, it is lamentable to think there should be amongst them Individuals who
are endeavouring to strike at the Root of Public Credit, by refusing the Paper of the existing Banks in
Newcastle, and Neighbourhood : — assuredly no Measure could more effectually serve the Purposes of
the ENEMY ! It therefore behoves every ENGLISHMAN, whatever be his Rank or Station in Life,
to use every Means in his Power to check this Spirit of Jacobinism ; for to do away public Confidence
and by that Means to deprive the different Classes of labouring People of having their Wages safely
and regularly paid, can be attributed to no other Principle.

July 29th, 1803. A?i Englishman.

Upon the same date Messrs. Surtees, Burdon, and Co., who suspended
payment on June 30th, issued a notice stating that they had "determined to
decline entirely the business of Banking," and that they were going to place their


accounts before " gentlemen of the first respectability." Holders of notes were
advised on no account to part with them for less than their full value, and the
public were assured that there would be ample to pay all demands ; they further

undertook to allow interest on
all notes. Messrs. Surtees &
Co. had been looked upon as
a most stable establishment,
and the notice of their intention
to wind up and decline banking
business only increased the

On July 28th, great conster-
nation occurred at Sunderland,
the proprietors of the Shields
and Sunderland Bank (Messrs.
Cook, Robinson, and Co.),
having issued a notice stating
that from " recent failures in
the Mercantile part of the
community " they were obliged
to suspend payment for the
present, and intended sub-
mitting their accounts to a
number of gentlemen who
would soon lay the same before
their creditors. The committee
were nearly a month before
they issued their report, as it
did not appear until August
23rd. They then stated that
the figures laid before them
showed a considerable balance
after discharging all the liabilities of the bank. Messrs. Cook, Robinson, and Co.
added a notice saying that they fully hoped to resume business in a few months,
and that in the meantime they would allow interest upon their notes and bills
of exchange. The distress caused in the two counties by the suspension of
such important banks was very great. Eventually the proprietors of the Sunderland
bank resumed payment, and for some years carried on a considerable business.




I '■ ~



The affairs of Surtees, Burdon, & Co. were placed in the hands of a committee
who used every endeavour to get matters wound up. Although the business was
brought into a ver}^ much smaller compass, an entire liquidation could not be

effected, and in 1816 Aubone
Surtees, John Surtees, Rowland
Burdon, John Brandling, and
John Embleton, were all declared
bankrupt. From time to time
the different properties and vested
interests of the several partners
were offered for sale by public
auction. The total amount
of debts proved was nearly
j^400,ooo ; this was after the
committee had settled many
claims. The final dividend was
not paid until 1832, just twenty-
nine 5'ears after the failure. In
the same commercial panic,
Richard Chambers was pro-
claimed a bankrupt. He was the
surviving partner in the firm of
Landell and Chambers ; both
gentlemen had been members of
the house of James Davison-
Bland & Co., bankers, when it
was established in 1788. Mr.
' ' Landell died in 1793, and Mr.

Chambers left the bank a short
; ^ time before his failure.




^— ^- -^ In 1808 notice was given that

the partnership existing between Thomas Shadforth, William Batson, and Thomas
Richard Batson, as Bankers at Berwick-upon-Tweed, under the name of
Shadforth, Batson, & Co. was amicably dissolved and a new firm constituted. I
cannot account for this bank announcing eight partners, when the law at this
time only allowed six ; except it be that Berwick was not amenable to English

The public holidays observed at this date must have caused great confusion to


business men. It was necessary to have printed lists of them. Those observed in
1811 were : —

January 1st, New Year's Day. Ma/y 29th, King Charles II. restored.

18th, Queen's Birth Day. June 3rd, Whit Monday.

30th, King Charles' Martyrdom. 4th, Whit Tuesday.

February 27th, Ash Wednesday. October 25th, King's Accession.

April 12th, Good Friday. November 5th, Gun Powder Plot.

15th, Easter Monday. December 25th, Christmas Day.

16th, Easter Tuesday. 26th, St. Stephen's Day.

May 23rd, Holy Thursday. 27th, St. John's Day.

In the hst for 18 15, Jan. i — New Year's Day; Jan. 30 — King Charles'
martyrdom ; and May 29 — King Charles II. restored ; are omitted. The list for the
following year (18 16) has New Year's Day and King Charles' Martyrdom

During this period the Stamp Act was under consideration. For some years
the ordinary promissory note and bill of exchange had been subject to a tax.
About- 1 79 1 this tax was applied to bank notes. It was soon pointed out that an
ordinary promissory note has only one life — if we may so express it — whereas the
lives of a bank note are many. A suggestion was made to tax the note on every
issue, but this was found impracticable. In 1804, an Act was passed limiting the
life of a country bank note to three years from the date of issue. This Act gave
the bankers great trouble. By accident and oversight notes were constantly used
beyond the prescribed time, and fines for considerable amounts were the result.
Eventually the duty was increased to cover the average life of any note. Lawson
gives the following statement of the duties charged.


s. d.



s. d.

£2 not exceeding £30


Not exceeding £1



£30 „ £50







£50 „ £100






1 3

£100 „ £200





1 9














8 6




Scarcity of Silver — Issue of trade tokens — Whitby and York Shillings — Riot in
Sunderland — Issue of Spanish Dollars from the Bank of England — Bank
Tokens — Dollars and Tokens in the North of England — Backhouse & Co. —
New Silver coinage — Tradesmen issue paper money — Gold much appreciated —
Parliament take up the matter — Act regarding Licences — No Collection of
Bank Notes — New banks open — Panic of 1815 — Banks supported — Messrs.
Cook's bankruptcy — Loraine, Baker, & Co. decline business — Newcastle Banks
again supported — "Montague" Bank — Establishment of Savings' Banks —
Increase in forgeries — Numerous executions — Bank of England blamed —
Quotations from The Black Dwarf — Action of the Society of Arts — Fish v. Ranson
— Cruickshank's Note — Penal Code revised.

DURING the early part of the period embraced by this chapter, silver
became remarkably scarce, and the coin in circulation was in a very
bad condition. To meet the difficulty, tradesmen in many parts of the
country manufactured their own tokens. In Newcastle, John Robertson, silversmith,
issued a silver shilling, a sixpence, and subsequently a half-crown. (See page 20.)
Mr. Kelly, silversmith, Newcastle, also issued coins. The Bewick Main Colliery
used both silver and copper money of their own production. Messrs. Christopher
and Jennett, booksellers, Stockton, and many others adopted the issue of trade
tokens. The " Whitby shilling " and the " York shilling " (the latter issued by Messrs.
Cattell and Barber), had a large circulation and were freely taken all over the North
and East Ridings. The use of trade tokens had little effect upon the state of the
currency ; coin gradually depreciated in value. It was know^n that the Government
had taken up the matter and w^ere going to provide large quantities of new silver.
In many places an impression prevailed that w^hen the new coins were ready they
would only be exchanged for weight and not for face value. In 18 16 a riot
occurred at Sunderland in consequence of this idea. We read —

" Many of the tradesmen of Sunderland injudiciously refused taking the shillings and sixpences that
were plain and without remains of the impression. In consequence of this a large concourse of the
poor inhabitants met after dark and commenced an attack upon the shops of Messrs. Caleb Wilson,
Nattrass, Middlebrook, Walton, Andrew Hall, etc., all grocers and flour dealers ; the windows of both
shops and houses were nearly demolished, and the shop of Middlebrook completely gutted by the mob,
who were seen running away with hams, groceries, etc. After the shop had been forced open, the



33rd regiment was called out, and on the riot act being read about midnight they prepared to act hostilely,
when the mob in a great degree dispersed, but not before several soldiers received bruises from
bricks, etc. The house of Mr. Barnes, Surgeon, being at this time re-building, the mob took thence
many hundred bricks for their destructive purposes. The town continued in great alarm and
commotion for some time on this event."

On the other hand, the hope that the Government would take any coins in
exchange for new silver, brought a great variety of foreign and spurious specimens
into circulation.

"A public meeting was held at Stockton, September 9th, 1816, to determine upon the necessary
measures to prevent loss and inconvenience from the same, when a resolution was passed recommending
' to tradesmen and others to receive in payment small sums only of such silver as appears to be the
regular coinage of this country ; and also of such plain shillings as shall weigh 2 dwts. and 16 grains or
upwards ; and that French and Irish shillings and sixpences be wholly rejected and refused.' "

From time to time various coins were issued to facilitate trade. The Bank of
England, having a large stock of Spanish dollars, issued them " with a small head of
George the Third stamped on the head of Ferdinand of Spain." (See page i8.) They
were valued at five shillings and sixpence each. Their issue gave rise to the
following rhyme : —

"The Bank, to make their Spanish dollars pass,
Stamped the head of a fool on the head of an ass."

On May 12th, 1804, the Directors of the bank gave notice that dollars were
to be stamped at Mr. Bolton's manufactory, " with His Majesty's head and an
inscription, 'Georgius III, Dei Gratia, Rex'; and Britannia with the words 'Five
Shilling Dollar, Bank of England, 1804,' on the reverse. (See page ig.) On the
first appearance of these tokens, the glaring impropriety of an inscription composed
of two languages was much animadverted upon, it then being the only instance of
the kind in England." On July 9th, 181 1, the bank issued silver tokens for three
shillings, and one shilhng and sixpence. On July 12th, 18 12, the Act relating to
the dollar was renewed until the ist of August, 18 13. It also extended to the
tokens for three shiHings and one shilling and sixpence. On July nth, 18 17,
an Act was passed restricting the use of the dollars and tokens issued by the
bank, to March 25th, 18 18, but they could be presented at the bank until
March 25th, 1820. The bank issued a notice stating that after the ist of
August, all tokens, &c., would be exchanged either for gold or silver current coin
of the realm, or for notes. The notice was repeated on February 12th, 18 18, and
all postmasters were requested to exhibit the same. On March 12th, the bank
gave notice that they would be ready on and after the 19th of the month "to issue
to each of the bankers in London current silver coin of the realm to the amount of
twenty thousand pounds in exchange for bank notes, provided apphcation should
be made for the same before the 5th of July." According to returns made to the


House of Commons, on the ist June, 1818, there had been coined up to that date
in silver — shilhngs, 50,490,000 ; sixpences, 30,436,560.*

That the dollar and token found their way to the North of England is proved
by frequent entries regarding them, in the books of Messrs. Backhouse. Richard
Counsellor, their agent at Chester-le-Street, writes to the Durham branch —

" 6 Mo. 27, 1818— Dear Sir, I have sent with John £23 in Notes and £3 12s. in Bank Tokens— please
inform me if I may take Tokens any longer "

Large consignments of tokens were sent from Darlington to John Allard, London.
On 4 Mo. ist 1819 he is debited ^218 is. for tokens, and 4 mo. 9th of the same
year, ^406 12s., and the Sunderland branch is credited 4 mo. 5th : — By tokens
;^400 1 6s. 6d. We are not informed why the tokens were sent to John Allard
rather than to the London agents of the bank.

Early in 1 8 1 7 the new issue of silver coins was sent into the country. Towards
the end of January

" Twenty-three artillery train waggons loaded with new silver coin left London for the North. Three
upon arriving deposited their lading, amounting to some £24,000 with the bankers at York ; each
waggon was drawn by six horses with their riders and accompanied by a military escort." On January
30th "eighteen artillery waggons passed through Newcastle on their way to Scotland, they were under
a full military escort. They were laden with silver the weight of which was recorded as twenty-four

The supply for Newcastle arrived very soon after, and was deposited at the
Mint Office in the Close. On February 13th, 1817, the public could obtain the
same "in exchange for the old standard coin of the realm however defaced or
reduced in weight by use." The exchange for silver coin commenced simulta-
neously in all parts of the kingdom, and lasted for a fortnight, after which the old
money ceased to be current, with the exception of bank tokens which were still to

An extract from a letter written by Thos. Henry Faber,t from Auckland
Castle, to Messrs. Backhouse & Co., Durham, dated February 14th, 18 17, shows
the difficulty of procuring change at that time. He says : —

" I shall send to-morrow to be exchang'd nine or Ten Pounds in old Silver, which have been taken in
Shillings and Sixpences of almost every poor family in this town to-day, for articles of food which we
deliver out at reduced prices ; now I am informed that I can only receive in return twenty shillings of
the new coinage the remaining sum being paid in a check upon you for notes ; if this be the case I fear
our town will soon be drain'd of silver ; under a peculiar circumstance like this you perhaps may have
it in your power to accommodate me with change to the amount which the Bearer will carry in to you.
Though in my hands as treasurer the above Sum may be said to be the property of many. I feel
greatly obliged by your attention to my request in sending £5 in change on Wednesday."

♦ For a full account, see Lawson's "History of Banking," Chap. IV.
+ " Mr. Faber was Agent of the Bishop of Durham from 1813 to 1833. He resided close to the gates of the castle,
the office being within the gates. Mr. Faber's sou, F. W. Faber, became the celebrated Catholic divine and
hymn writer,"


In 1819, in some places silver was again very scarce. So much so, that trades-
men had to issue paper money. W. Braithwaite, T. Jennett, and T. Eeles, of
Stockton, all adopted paper notes for 2I6, and in other places both 5/- and 2I6 notes
were in circulation.

During this period gold became appreciated in value, and consequently notes of
the Bank- of England depreciated ; the guinea was worth about twenty-four shil-
lings. In 181 1, the market price of gold rose to £s us. per ounce, and the value
of the £1 bank note fell to 14/-. This state of things was brought to a climax by
Lord King issuing a notice to his tenants, stating that he would only receive his
rents in gold, or in paper money with an addition of ;^i7 los. per cent. The
question was brought before parliament, the discussions on the subject being well
worthy of perusal. Eventually a bill was passed, which enacted " that the taking
of gold coin at more than its value or bank notes at less, shall be deemed a mis-
demeanour." In spite of the law, the trade in guineas still went on. An old
resident of Northallerton, almost a nonagenarian, related to me from his personal
knowledge, how in that district the guards of the coaches gathered all the gold
they could possibly get from the country people at a small premium, and disposed
of it to a certain watchmaker in Northallerton, who in this way did a considerable
contraband business.

About this time an Act was passed making it compulsory upon

*' Each individual or company issuing notes to take out a license renewable annually, the cost of which
is £30. This license specifies the names and places of abode of the body corporate, person or persons,
in the firm to whom it is granted, the name of such firm, the place where the business is carried
on, etc., and a separate license must be taken out for every town or place where any note shall be
issued by or on account of any banker.

Unless the license granted to persons in partnership set forth the names and places of abode of all
persons concerned in the partnership, whether their names appear on the notes issued by them or not,
such license shall be absolutely void." (55 Geo. III., c. 144.)

It is stated that in 1814 there were 940 country bankers who took out licenses,
and most of these issued their own notes. It was also made compulsory that a
specimen of every note it was intended to issue should be deposited with the
officials at Somerset House. It occurred to me that if the specimen notes and
licenses were retained, they would afford most interesting and reliable data of the
country bankers that were in existence at that period. I therefore put myself into
communication with Mr. J. G. Purcell, Controller of Stamps, who most courteously
promised to make every search for me. Subsequently, upon a personal interview,
I was disappointed to learn that these valuable records were only preserved for a
very few years. I was further surprised to find that there does not appear to be
any public collection of the old notes of the country bankers. The British


Museum, the Guildhall Library, and the Soane Museum, all failed me. Sir John
Lubbock and Mr. Hilton Price also informed me that they were not aware of any
such collection. As the day, undoubtedly, will come when the note of a country
banker will be as rare as the note of an old London goldsmith, would it not be
advisable for the officials of the British Museum to endeavour to fonii a collection
of such notes, which, year by year, must become more and more scarce and
interesting ?

The new bankers who started business in the north during this period were
Messrs. Skinner, Atty, & Holt, at Stockton ; Hague, Strickland, & Co., at Malton ;
Chapman & Co., at Newcastle and Shields ; and J. & J. Frankland, at Whitby.

In July, 1815, the old estabhshed bank of Mowbray, Hollingsworth, & Co., of
Darlington, Durham, Thirsk, and London, stopped payment from causes which
will be seen in the account of that bank. About the same period the trade of
Sunderland and Northallerton was thrown into confusion by bank failures. At the
former place, Messrs. Lumley, Smith, & Co., and at the latter, Messrs. Hammond,
Hirst, and Close, suspended payment. Messrs. Goodchild, Jackson, & Co., of
Sunderland, were also in difficulties. One hundred gentlemen generously offered to
become security on behalf of this bank, for j^500 each, but it was of no avail, and
eventually it had to suspend. Naturally such occurrences led to a run upon all the
other banks in the district, their notes coming upon them in greater numbers than
they could cope with. For the fifth time since 1772, the patient long-suffering
inhabitants of Newcastle had to rally to the support of their banks. The follow-
ing notice was issued : —

"Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 22nd July, 1815. At a meeting held this day at Mr. Foster's Long Room in
Pilgrim Street, of several Owners of Lands in the Counties of Durham and Northumberland, John
Carr, of Dunston, Esq., in the Chair, It was declared to be the unanimous Sentiment of the Meeting
that all the Banks of Newcastle are entitled to the fullest Confidence of the Public, and it was
unanimously resolved therefore That the notes issued by the undermentioned Banks, will be received
in Payment to any Amount by every Person present at the Meeting: — SIR M. W. RIDLEY,
MESSRS, REED, BATSON, & CO. And it was also resolved :— That a paper be forthwith prepared
expressive of the sentiments and intentions of this meeting and distributed through the said counties
for the signature of the land owners not present.

Then came the usual declaration : — " We the underwritten Land Owners of
the Counties of Durham and Northumberland do testify our entire assent to the
Resolution of the Meeting of the Land Owners of the said Counties held in
Foster's Long Room in Newcastle." Ninety-six names are given upon the list
before me. The Merchants and Tradesmen of Newcastle also issue a notice : —

Online LibraryMaberly PhillipsA history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c → online text (page 10 of 57)